Candy

304/365: National Caramel Apple Day

Happy Halloween! I’m not going to trick you: today’s food holiday is a real treat. October 31 is National Caramel Apple Day!

National Caramel Apple DayOnce upon a time, people handed out homemade caramel apples to trick-or-treaters who came to their doorsteps, but the fear of candy tampering put an end to this. That’s a real shame, because personally I’d much rather have a caramel apple than a lame Tootsie Roll, but that’s just me. Caramel apples were invented in the 1950s by Dan Walker, a sales representative for Kraft Foods. Individually-wrapped caramels were one of Kraft’s top-selling candies, and Walker’s creation led to increased sales (and probably made apple growers pretty happy, too). Recipes for caramel apples were printed on the labels, and still appear to this day. Vito Raimondi invented and patented a caramel apple making machine in 1960, speeding up the manufacturing process. Most people are content to make their own nowadays.

I hadn’t had a caramel apple in years. A couple of weeks ago we went to Hood River, Oregon to buy fresh apples along the “Fruit Loop.” We had some tart, crispy Crimson Crisps left over, so we made caramel apples from scratch. (Well, using a packaged caramel apple kit, but close enough). The contrast between sweet and tart, soft and crisp was wonderful!

Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween!

Categories: Candy, Fruit | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

303/365: National Candy Corn Day

Today’s food holiday celebrates a confection synonymous with Halloween, and one of my favorite candies. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day!

The funny thing is, I wasn’t always a fan of candy corn. I never cared for it while growing up. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered how delicious this candy actually is! I’ve been hooked ever since. I even blogged about it last year, so if you’re interested in reading more about my personal obsession with candy corn, follow the link.

Candy corn was invented by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s. The traditional colors of candy corn – a wide yellow end, an orange center, and a white tip – are meant to resemble kernels of corn, though they’re about triple the size of a real kernel. Candy corn was originally made by hand, and while the process remains the same, most of it is automated today. The recipe is unchanged, as well; it’s mostly sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and artificial coloring. Fondant and marshmallows are added for texture. While primarily associated with Halloween, different versions of candy corn are now made to coincide with other holidays. “Reindeer corn” for Christmas has a red end and green center, “Cupid corn” for Valentine’s Day has a red end and pink center, and “Bunny corn” for Easter is a two-colored version with a white tip and a variety of pastel-colored bases. New variations this year included s’mores and pumpkin spice flavors.

I suppose we could have gone upscale and celebrated with a candy corn cocktail (all the rage lately) or some other concoction, but in this case, simple is best. We enjoyed a handful of candy corn straight up!

National Candy Corn Day

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301/365: National Wild Foods Day/National Chocolate Day*

Those who appreciate nature will go wild over today’s food holiday. October 28 is National Wild Foods Day!

It’s also National Chocolate Day, but c’mon…how many separate chocolate holidays can there possibly be? (25 so far this year, to be exact, ranging from chocolate covered raisins and chocolate mousse to chocolate covered insects and bittersweet chocolate. And there are still more to come). I appreciate chocolate as much as the next person, but can you say overkill? So we’re celebrating wild foods instead.National Wild Foods Day

Wild foods are defined as those that can be gathered from outdoors and eaten without any processing. Many different foods fall under this category: blackberries, huckleberries, chanterelle mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, wild rice, maple syrup, juniper berries, dandelions, salmon, elk, oysters, etc. I love the idea behind this holiday – foraging in the woods, gathering edible plants and berries to eat – but I question the timing of it. November is just a few days away, which means many of these wild foods are out of season. I don’t trust myself to pick wild mushrooms, because one misidentified fungus and it’s lights out, and I’m not a hunter, so it’s not like I’m going to go out and bag myself a deer. Instead, we’re going to have to rely on the grocery store for our wild foods fix, which feels a little bit like the definition of “defeating the purpose,” but it’s not like we have much choice. Especially on a day in which we are flying back home from Denver.

So to celebrate, we bought a bag of elk jerky at the Denver International Airport. I suppose it would have been better if we’d bagged the elk ourselves, gutted it, smoked it, and made jerky, but we do have our limits, you know? The airport-wild elk jerky was pretty tasty!

Oh, and yeah…we also had chocolate. Oops.

Categories: Candy, Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

266/365: National White Chocolate Day

If you’ve got the white stuff, you’ll appreciate today’s food holiday. September 22 is National White Chocolate Day! We have 99 days left in our food challenge, by the way. If nothing else, this should make you realize that Christmas isn’t as far away as you think it is.

White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate, but it does contain cocoa butter – so who’s complaining? Other ingredients include sugar, milk solids, and salt. During manufacturing, the dark-colored solids of the cacao bean are separated from the fat. When regular chocolate is made the ingredients are later recombined, but the cocoa solids are left out of white chocolate, resulting in a pale yellow to ivory color and a lack of antioxidants and other ingredients found in chocolate. Who cares? It’s still pretty damn good!

Nestlé launched a white chocolate candy bar in Switzerland during the 1930s, as a way to get rid of excess powdered milk, which was all the rage during World War I but fell out of widespread use as more consumers turned to fresh milk. Substituting milk solids for cocoa solids resulted in a different product entirely, one that doesn’t always get a lot of respect. Could be due to the name of that Swiss candy bar, Galak. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Ack! I ate a Galak! Savvy marketing, fellas. In 1948 Nestlé launched another white chocolate bar called Nestlé’s Alpine White Chocolate, which was a big hit during the 1980s and ’90s, until it was eventually discontinued. There is currently a push to bring back this candy bar, with a Facebook page dedicated to reviving it. I, for one, hope they succeed. I’m pretty sure I tried the bar and loved it. I’ve always been a big fan of white chocolate, sometimes even craving it more than regular chocolate.

To celebrate, we bought a Toblerone® white chocolate bar. I’ve become a big fan of this brand thanks to the food challenge, and was thrilled to find a white chocolate version of their Matterhorn-shaped chocolate bar. Delicious!

National White Chocolate Day

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242/365: National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Are you in the mood for s’more marshmallows? Today’s  your lucky day! August 30 is National Toasted Marshmallow Day!

We recently celebrated National S’mores Day, and actually did so without ever toasting a marshmallow. I guess this is payback for taking the easy way out, huh? Though in our defense it was late, had been a long day, and we’d just returned from a food festival in downtown Portland. We weren’t really in the mood to go all out and toast our own marshmallows. This time, we have no choice, as toasting is a prerequisite for the holiday. It’s right there in the name and everything.IMAG1393

Contrary to the name, we didn’t want some more S’mores. The other day, Tara mentioned craving Rice Krispie Treats. That’s when inspiration hit: could we make toasted marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats?! According to the internet, the answer was a resounding yes. Yes, we could. So we found a recipe and did just that.

We’ve got guests visiting from Sacramento this weekend, too. Lucky them – they’ll be privy to our food holidays for the next three days. The toasted marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats were a hit, so we’re off to a good start!

Here’s the recipe:

Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (10.5 oz) bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie Cereal

How to Make

  1. Grease a 9×9 pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In small saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter. Continue cooking butter, swirling pan until it becomes a nice brown color (this will take about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Transfer browned butter into a large bowl or pot where you will be able to easily stir your Rice Krispie Treats together, and set aside.
  3. Turn oven onto broil.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Evenly spread your marshmallows onto lined baking sheet.
  5. Place under broiler for 45 seconds to 1 minute until marshmallows are puffed and deeply golden. Watch them closely because they will burn quickly.
  6. Using a rubber spatula lightly greased with cooking spray, immediately scrape marshmallows into bowl with butter. Stir to combine quickly. Pour Rice Krispies into toasted marshmallow mix and stir to combine.
  7. Press evenly into the prepared pan.
  8. Allow to cool before cutting into squares and serving.

Notes

Store airtight for up to 2 days.

They were fantastic!

National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

212/365: National Jump For Jelly Beans Day*

It’s a real leap to say today’s food holiday won’t put a spring in  your step. The last day of July is National Jump For Jelly Beans Day!

I took this challenge literally.

I took this challenge literally.

It’s also National Raspberry Cake Day (which sounds interesting, but tomorrow we’re celebrating raspberry pie). Now, we’ve already done the jellybean thing), so this is yet another food that is celebrated multiple times. I suppose purists would argue that last time around we weren’t incorporating aerobic exercise in our celebration so this one is different, but c’mon…if it were up to me, we’d be celebrating something else that gets no official glory. Like ketchup, as I’ve mentioned many times. Or stuffed cabbage rolls. Or corn on the cob.

So I’m turning to you, dear readers, and asking you this: if you could create your own food holiday, to which dish would you pay homage?

To celebrate, we ate jelly beans. And we jumped. Doesn’t get more basic than that, does it? But not just any old jelly beans. Bacon flavored jelly beans, ’cause that’s how we roll.

They were awful. 

Fortunately, we had backups available. We’d gotten a sour fruit mix of Jelly Bellies, and those were our saving grace. Tart, chewy, and delicious. There’s a reason Jelly Belly is the top-selling jelly bean in America!

In case you were wondering, bacon flavored jelly beans are NO BUENO.

In case you were wondering, bacon flavored jelly beans are NO BUENO.

 

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

209/365: National Milk Chocolate Day

If you’re cuckoo for cocoa, then today’s your day. July 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day!

Chocolate is one of those things we’ve celebrated many times already this year, and I’ve talked about its history more than once. I’m too lazy to link to those various posts, but a quick Google search under “chocolate eat my words” (or a similar combination) brings up links to multiple chocolate-flavored posts we’ve already published. Be careful, though: a similar search brings up a 9-step process on How To Eat Chocolate Seductively (#3: Unwrap the chocolate bar or box with a gleam in your eye and a sense of purpose. #5: Place your tongue on the chocolate first. Oh, the hilarity).

There are different varieties of chocolate, of course, and milk chocolate – while not as hip or trendy as dark chocolate these days – still holds a special place in many people’s hearts. It’s a sweet chocolate that contains milk powder or condensed milk, and is undeniably creamy and wonderful. In 1867, Swiss candlemaker Daniel Peter, who had recently started working in his father-in-law’s chocolate business,  experimented with adding milk to chocolate in order to create a creamier product. Milk contains water, which makes chocolate separate and disintegrate, so Daniel tinkered with his recipe for eight years before bringing it to his friend and neighbor, Henri Nestlé, whose company had perfected the manufacturing of condensed milk for its line of baby food products. By adding Henri’s sweetened condensed milk to Daniel’s chocolate, they successfully created a milk chocolate that stayed together and tasted delicious. You no doubt recognize the Nestlé name, and are well aware of its dominance in the world of milk chocolate. You can thank Daniel Peter for that.

To celebrate, we broke out a leftover Hershey’s chocolate bar from our camping trip last weekend. Nothing says milk chocolate like Hershey’s!

National Milk Chocolate Day

Categories: Candy, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

203/365: National Penuche Fudge Day

If you accidentally skip today’s food holiday, you might end up muttering a few choice curse words like “oh, fudge!” July 22 is National Penuche Fudge Day.

I’ve had this one on my radar for some time, and planned ahead, buying a bar of penuche fudge the first time I found one for sale earlier in the year. Because penuche is one of those things that may leave you scratching your head in bewilderment, wondering if it’s a strange vegetable or a fish or a mysterious Chinese herb. Turns out it’s none of the above, but rather, a type of fudge made with brown sugar instead of the typical white sugar found in other flavors. Other main ingredients include milk, butter, and vanilla. Some people add pecans or other nuts, and in New England – where the recipe originates, and is particularly popular – they’re fond of adding maple syrup. The caramelization of the brown sugar gives penuche fudge a distinctive caramel-like flavor, and the color is usually tan.

If you want the history of fudge, click here. Been there, done that, so let’s move on.

I’ve actually had penuche fudge before. Several years ago I stopped by a chocolate festival in Portland where they were selling all sorts of chocolate confections, including fudge. For some inexplicable reason I bought the one bar of fudge that contained no chocolate, just because I was curious about it. It was penuche, and I thought it was incredibly creamy and decadent, so I was particularly looking forward to today’s food holiday.

National Penuche Fudge Day

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Categories: Candy, Desserts | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

201/365: National Lollipop Day*

You deserve a licking if you’re not a fan of today’s food holiday. July 20 is National Lollipop Day!

This is also the first post we are scheduling to publish. (Remember, we write the majority of these ahead of time)! We’ve gotta do it this way since we’re camping this weekend and  Internet service is hard to come by in the wilderness. Besides, we’re too busy making S’mores and keeping raccoons away from our food in order to worry about blog posts this weekend, so we’re happy to let Technology do her thing.

Yes, technology is a she, in case you were wondering.

It’s also National Fortune Cookie Day, but Confucius say no lookie for cookie in middle of forest. So, lollipops it is!

A man named George Smith, owner of the Bradley Smith Company – who manufactured candy and other sweet confections – claimed to have invented the modern lollipop in 1908, putting candy on a stick to make it easier to eat. He named the treat after his favorite racehorse, Lolly Pop, and trademarked the name. But lollipops have probably been around in one form or another for as long as man has roamed the earth. Prehistoric dudes are believed to have scooped honey from beehives using sticks, and licking them so as not to let any of the sweet nectar go to waste. Archaeologists have found evidence that ancient Chinese, Arabs, and Egyptians all made candied fruit and nut concoctions that were served on a stick to make them easier to eat. In the 17th century the English enjoyed soft boiled sugar candies that they placed on sticks for easier eating. Though the candy wasn’t hard, the concept is pretty much the same. During the Civil War children were given hard candies on the tips of pencils as treats. So at best, Smith reinvented something that had been around since the dawn of man. Nice try, George. He allowed his trademark to expire during the Depression, when people were too busy trying to put scraps of food on the table to enjoy a treat like a lollipop, and the name fell into the public domain.

To celebrate, we bought a bag of Dum Dums and enjoyed lollipops around the campfire.

National Lollipop Day

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189/365: National Milk Chocolate With Almonds Day

July 8 is National Milk Chocolate With Almonds Day. Not to be confused with November 7, which will be National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day. And yet, as I’ve stated before, we are left without a National Ketchup Day. Hardly seems fair, does it?

But my job is not to question these food holidays. Even though I’ve been doing so mercilessly, whenever something strikes me as odd or unjust (hello, dual coq au vin holidays). Also, hint: check back one week from today, because I’ll be bitching again.

Anyway…

Chocolate and nuts are a great combination, like Sonny and Cher or Simon and Garfunkel: each is fine on their own, but put them together, and the combination  is velvety smooth and a little crunchy. The flavors really sing. Literally. The combination dates back to at least 1742, when a cookbook by Eliza Smith, The Compleat Housewife, was published. Clever title, by the way. Nice little pun, Eliza. Kind of like what The Beatles did in the 60s. Smith’s cookbook featured a recipe for Chocolate Almonds that was, essentially, chocolate-covered almonds. It probably didn’t require a lot of culinary skill to whip up, but I’m sure it tasted good. Probably the most popular iteration of this classic duo is the Almond Joy candy bar, created by the Winjamy Candy Manufacturing Company in 1946 (they later merged with Cadbury in 1978 and were sold to Hershey’s in 1988). “Sometimes you feel like a nut/sometimes you don’t” became one of the most annoyingly catchy commercial jingles in history during the 1970s.

To celebrate the holiday, Tara and I felt like nuts, so we had an Almond Joy bar.

National Milk Chocolate Almond Day

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